ITT issued for study to explore communications in the Arctic

Melting ice at the North Pole is opening up new possibilities for development in the Arctic.

Coupled with the fact that the commercial shipping industry is already making use of the North East passage, a need for higher bandwidth satellite communication systems is becoming apparent.

As a result, ESA has issued an Invitation to Tender for an Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) 1 study to determine satellite communications for future Arctic communications needs. To view the ITT, click here.

Communications in the Arctic was a main topic of discussion at the Space and the Arctic workshop, held recently in Stockholm, Sweden, organised by the Swedish National Space Board and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute together with ESA, EUMETSAT and the European Commission. At this workshop, ESA was asked to review communications satellites coverage and determine solutions that can improve the situation. The ARTES 1 study is in response to this request.

Communications in Arctic regions have traditionally been a market for low data rate and store&forward messaging systems. The geo-stationary orbits of most communication satellites limit coverage in the far North. An extension of high bandwidth communication to these regions would allow a better quality of life for those living and working in the North and a more immediate transfer of information on conditions to those outside.

Increased activity in the Arctic region will prompt the need for improved positioning and navigation capabilities which can only be fulfilled with improved communication means. This would include broadcast capabilities for the dissemination of navigation corrections and integrity data, as well as two-way communication means to support position reporting applications.

The outcome of the ARTES 1 study shall:

  • identify opportunities that will be available to European industry to supply the emerging satellite systems, associated user segment and innovative satellite applications and services;
  • identify technical developments that will be required to meet the requirements of the planned and future satellite systems.

The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on Arctic issues at its foreign Affairs Council meeting held in Brussels on 8 December. The Council welcomes the gradual formulation of a policy on Arctic issues to address EU interests and responsibilities while recognising Member States' legitimate interests and rights in the Arctic. On matters of vessel traffic monitoring, the Council notes the usefulness of including the Arctic as far as possible in relevant international monitoring systems and in present and future navigation and communication satellite systems.

ESA’s ice mission, CryoSat, is scheduled to launch in February next year. CryoSat will monitor precise changes in the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice. The observations made over its three-year lifetime will help explain the connection between the melting of the polar ice and the rise in sea levels and how this is contributing to climate change.

ESA’s Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities Directorate will be issuing a tender to deploy and operate a testbed to support the demonstration of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) services over the Arctic region on the basis of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) subsystems and other existing infrastructure as deployed and operated in this region. Visit EMITS for more information.

Closing date for the ITT is 29 January, 2010.  To learn more about the workshop held in Sweden, or for further information, visit the related links located in the column to the right.

Event Date

10 December 2009
Published 10 December 2009
Last updated at 10 December 2009 - 11:24